George Orwell wrote his dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four at a run-down house in Canonbury Square, Islington, where a heritage plaque was recently unveiled to commemorate his time there during the bleak post-war years.
Had the author been told then that this pocket of London would one day be a coveted conservation area, cherished by the capital’s chattering classes, he would probably have dismissed the assertion as Ministry of Truth manipulation.
This superb Regency square with terraces of tall, thin houses around a narrow garden is perhaps not as peaceful as you might expect, since busy Canonbury Road dissects it, but it is part of one of London’s sought-after neighbourhoods and even has its own art gallery and café, the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art, in a listed Georgian house and garden.
New homes are rare in this handsome enclave, but a former car showroom and depot has unlocked a large chunk of land for Canonbury Cross, above left, a subtle low-rise scheme of brick-built flats and four-storey townhouses. The houses, from £1.84 million, form a new street behind Canonbury Square and are designed for family life, with the lower-ground level opening to a patio garden and a shared communal courtyard with views of Union Chapel. Flats from £562,500. Call Notting Hill Sales on 020 3797 3469.